I haven’t mentioned it before, but I have been taking a figure drawing class at the Institute with Larry Christian. Larry’s approach to drawing the figure is the opposite of academic drawing. He pushes us to draw quickly, intuitively, expressively. The techniques are familiar ones, but to please Larry, we must apply those techniques more fluidly and expressively to create an image that is unique.
I took this course with Larry before, in the spring of 2006, when I was just getting started as an artist. At that time, I was obsessing on landscapes, particularly plein air painting. Now that I have done a 180 on that preference, and also come to admire Larry’s drawings, I was motivated to retake the course, hoping to find out how Larry achieves his dramatic effects. For the only images of his work I could find online, click here. By way of contrast, look at Anthony Ryder’s drawing, so meticulous, and also lovely, but definitely academic in style.
Most of our work product in Larry’s course is not fit for public view. We bring nothing to completion. We produce pages and pages of gesture drawings, 30 or more of them each week, and then do our exercises on the technique du jour. One week it was drawing shapes instead of lines. The next week, drawing negative shapes. The week after that, creating form with darker values for shadows. Most recent week, creating form by wiping out darker values to create light.
Last week did produce a few showable drawings. And one of them contributed to the title of this week’s blog.
We applied charcoal evenly over the paper in order to create a non-white ground, and then erased that charcoal to bring out the shape of the model. I got lucky in my angle on the crouching pose–the simplicity of the shape and the shadow distinguish this drawing. The one before it was a more traditional pose, more complicated, yet less interesting.
Now that the course is winding to a conclusion, I have a pretty good idea of what I will be practicing in order to emulate Larry Christian: Use compressed charcoal; draw negative spaces; and my shadow areas will be all in one value. That last point was a revelation.
The other example of an odd perspective is my painting from yesterday, Sunday. I brought a larger canvas (12×16) and had less time (we didn’t get started until 45 minutes into our 3-hour session with the model), so perhaps that inspired me to paint more with the larger, simpler shapes. Or maybe I was influenced by the success of my crouching pose above. In any event, here it is:
In evaluating this painting, I remembered one from a month or so ago, which, by consensus of my friends, I had ruined by smoothing out the shapes within shapes. It’s very hard to restrain oneself. Right now I’m looking at that light patch on her forehead, thinking it should be smoothed. But I had a light patch like that on her breast at one point, and it disappeared and I don’t even remember doing it. That’s how hard it is to restrain oneself.
Following up on the Soo Rye Gallery opening last Saturday, I’m hoping you are dying to see my photos taken at the reception.
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye NH; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.